|A screenshot of an online-meeting at Vero. With people increasingly cooped up at home, managers are trying to help workers achieve work-life balance. — VNS Photo|
HCM CITY — The staff at Vero, a PR agency in HCM City, thought the new creative director was fun as he rapped at his welcome party.
They had thought the party would be boring since due to COVID-19 everyone was working from home, but it turned out to be exciting.
Ivy Nhi Châu, media engagement lead, possibly spoke for everyone when she said: “Everything was normal like it used to be in office. The only oddity about the event was that it was online.”
Vero is one of many companies in the city that have switched to working from home amid the pandemic since the beginning of June.
Based on the nature of work, some have half of their staff coming into office while others allow everyone to work from home.
In fact, working from home has been common since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit last year, but after the fourth and latest wave brought the Delta variant of the virus, it has become more common.
It is almost a month since people stopped going to office.
With people increasingly cooped up at home, managers are trying to help workers achieve work-life balance.
Vũ Quân Nguyễn Masse, brand and culture director of Vero, told Việt Nam News: “Vero also has offices in Thailand, Indonesia, and Myanmar, so we have been able to share our experiences and tips from each office about work-from-home (WFH) policies.
“Since the first outbreak, we have maintained a flexible WFH policy that allows any team member to work remotely on any day as long as they arrange things with their team.
“So when the virus returned to HCM City, we were prepared for it. Our efforts this time have focused on ways to keep the office spirit strong.”
He cited the example of his company recently organising an online team lunch where it sent healthy food to employees’ homes, and all of them joined an online chat and had some fun activities.
“Our new creative director showed off his rapping skills, several of us spoke about our favourite entertainment, and we had a lively competitive pub quiz. Now we are preparing care packages for everyone since we have learnt that working from home for long can take a toll on people’s health.” The company has also organised eight online workshops and talks by both employees and guests, and started an internal social media account on Instagram for Vero team members across ASEAN to share moments from their lives and help everyone stay connected, he said.
“For deeper care for our team’s wellness, we have an online mental health counselling programme since the end of 2020. This programme provides a fund for team members to anonymously book and consult professional psychologists and counsellors. We have also implemented an extra ‘Wellness Day Off’ so that team members can take time for themselves.
“Overall, we believe that any policy which helps reduce friction in the workflow is bound to help us adapt – and even thrive – in this new style of work.”
Fision Event and Communication Company helps its staff balance work and life by having online parties and also yoga classes.
Nguyễn Hà Thanh, its managing director, told Việt Nam News: “We actually have no WFH policy as we all know that we tend to work more at home when the gap between work and life fades as we stay all day in one place.”
“The chat board is fulfilled with personal updates. We even hosted a surprise birthday party on Zoom for one of our interns with gifts, a cake and celebrations. There are employees who need to show up at office for stuff, and when that happens we stagger time slots so that the risk of direct meetings is limited.”
In addition to keeping everyone positive and healthy, the company organises online yoga classes.
“The class is organised three times per week. All free. We also have a SWEET ON ME scheme so that everyone can get treated to some desserts occasionally.”
A bank in HCM City chooses another way to help its staff feel secure.
Soon after city authorities applied circular No 15 against COVID-19 and encouraged people to work from home, the bank switched to two shifts, an employee, who asked not to name her or the bank, told Việt Nam News.
She said the employees have been divided into two teams for the shifts.
“Due to the nature of certain people’s work, not everyone can work from home unlike in some companies. We have to work in turns. Each employee goes to the office for one or two weeks.”
In order to ensure staff convenience in case the building is quarantined, the bank decided to install cubicles with bathrooms, she said.
“The situation in the city is serious, and we deeply appreciate the bank’s efforts, which make us feel more secure.”
Ivy Nhi Châu said: “Working from home is not new to us any more. Since the first wave of Covid-19, my company has encouraged us to work from home at least two days a week since it understands that in a creative agency environment, freedom and flexibility can have a major effect on the quality of people’s work and their overall happiness. It is something I appreciate a lot.”
"The staff are all used to collaborating and holding meetings online via Microsoft Teams or Zoom, and everyone is aware of their tasks, and so things go smoothly," she said.
“It also helps that our culture team takes time to talk to each of us, reminds us to care for our well-being, and creates some fun online activities to help us stay connected.” — VNS